Archive for January 30th, 2009

Rethinking Imbolc

Imbolc is the holiday celebrated at the midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, and I’ve always looked upon it as such: the literal turning-point between winter and spring.  My husband has tended to look at it more as how it literally feels here locally, i.e. the dead depths of winter misery, when it’s still wretchedly cold and you’re sick to death of it but still have to slog through another six weeks at least of unmitigated suck. 

I’m now more inclined to agree with him.

Two days ago a fierce winter storm cut a swath across the country, and we were right in its path.  (Oddly, it followed to some degree the path that was cut by Hurricane Ike back in September; and did even more damage, it seems.)  From Tuesday around midnight, until about seven o’clock this evening, we were without power.  We were utterly dependent on our little fireplace to keep the house livable; all we could do was huddle round the fire and keep tossing logs on it, from a supply that was small to begin with and dwindling faster than we would have liked.  That gave me a taste, a not entirely pleasant taste, of what life at this time of year might have been like for our ancestors.

Survival is a foreign concept to most of us.  We have our houses and our cars, electricity, all the technologies that smooth the path before us.  Stripped of those things, we realize just how vulnerable we really are.  It was possible for us to dig the car out of the snow and ice, drive just a few miles down the road, and find hot food and warm shelter; we have friends and relatives who were not as badly affected who offered us hospitality.  People living agrarian, pre-industrial lives would not have had those options.  You would have lain in your stores of food and firewood and the necessities to see you through the long cold months, and you would have hoped and prayed that those stores would be enough.  If they weren’t, well, you might not have survived.  We experienced some distress, but no great danger.  But springtime has never felt farther away.


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